Paul Manafort, the New Britain native who was charged with fraud, money laundering and failure to register as a U.S. foreign agent, will be moved from a relatively plush prison far from Washington to a more spartan cell in the city jail of nearby Alexandria, Va.
Manafort, the former Trump campaign manager who faces trial on bank and tax fraud charges, asked last week for his July 25 federal trial to be postponed until the fall because it was hard to prepare 100 miles from court.
But prosecutors said he backpedaled Tuesday when Judge T.S. Ellis ordered him to move to a jail in Alexandria, saying he didn’t want to adjust to a new facility as the trial nears.
While Manafort on Tuesday asked to stay in a Northern Neck facility - where prosecutors said he is being treated like a “VIP” - a federal judge wrote in a filing Wednesday that his ability to prepare for trial “trumps his personal comfort.”
Prosecutors said in a court filing that the facility where he’s now jailed resembles more of a luxurious cell that allows him to use his phone and computer compared to his next stop.
Manafort’s spokesman, Jason Maloni, said there would be no comment on the jail relocation.
Manafort has also said he wants his trial to be relocated from Alexandria to Roanoke, where jurors are more likely to side with President Trump.
Attorneys for Robert S. Mueller’s special counsel probe into the 2016 election said that Manafort wants the trial pushed for strategic purposes. He also said he needs more time to review documents pertaining to a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party he was involved with in the case.
The Connecticut native speaks to his attorneys every day and multiple times a day over the phone, his attorneys said.
“Among the unique privileges Manafort enjoys at the jail are a private, self-contained living unit, which is larger than other inmates’ units, his own bathroom and shower facility, his own personal telephone, and his own workspace to prepare for trial,” the prosecutors wrote, adding that he’s not required to wear a uniform.
They also wrote that Manafort composes emails on a separate laptop that his team carries in and out of the Northern Neck facility. The laptop connects to the internet outside the jail and his emails are sent.
Ellis, the federal judge, said the Alexandria jail will allow Manafort to meet with his attorneys for eight hours a day until trial, adding that the new facility has previously detained several high-profile figures such as terrorists and spies.